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Niche technology practice Lochners has merged with national firm Laytons.
The move creates the largest intellectual property (IP) team in the South East. Managing partner of Laytons' Guildford office Chris Taylor said: "We hope to be recognised as the number one law firm for IP in the South of England, excluding London." All three Lochners partners - Ludi Lochner, David Knight and Simon Chapman - have joined Laytons' Guildford office, along with barrister Emma Riach. The merged firm will retain the Laytons name. Laytons chief executive Richard Kennett said: "We see great benefits and opportunities flowing from this marriage, both for us and for our clients." Taylor said the merger made sense. Lochners had been concerned about the security of a niche practice. "They felt they needed the support of a fairly decent-sized firm around them," he said. Laytons has a strong national technology and IP practice. But the merger with Lochners adds specialist depth. Taylor said that, although his office had a reasonable amount of IP work, it was sometimes overstretched, and adding Lochners' reputation and experience would provide the firm with an immediate boost, both in terms of practitioners and clients. Lochners acts for a number of listed and multinational companies, counting Remington and Nokia among its clients. Recently, a high-profile patent infringement case for Remington against Philips has been taken to the European Court of Justice. Lochner said: "We were impressed by Laytons as a leading commercial firm. Our ethos, based on a specialist team of technology solicitors, will very much continue now that we're part of Laytons." He added that clients would benefit from the range of services offered by Laytons. Taylor agreed. "The merger reinforces our commercial base because it is another strategic area of law in which we believe we will excel," he explained. "They will both complement Laytons' existing technology skills across all our offices and benefit from the strength of our existing broad-based commercial practice." The arrival of the three Lochners partners brings the total number of partners at Laytons to 36, 13 of which are located in Guildford.